Flood damage is tough enough to repair without getting bogged down in faxes and reports. We explain how wireless technology has saved one company from drowning in paperwork
Flood damage repair has leaped from the Dark Ages into the 21st century with the use of a new IT system. "It takes the pain out of a huge administrative burden that generated mountains of paper," says Alasdair Phillips, divisional director of flood damage specialist Munters. "We would have ground to a halt in the next year or two if we hadn't adapted this system."

Insurance companies and loss adjusters employ Munters to dry out flood-damaged property and to get rid of the effects of smoke damage and water after a fire. The company also prepares a survey so the insurer can instruct contractors to carry out remedial works. The new software it is using – Simply Host, supplied by software house Simplicity – brings together all the stakeholders in Munter's business, from client to technicians.

Before Simply Host was installed, field technicians would get job details by fax, prepare a report and fax it back to the office. This would then be faxed on to the insurer. But under the new system, field technicians are armed with laptops that are connected to the office via wireless link. This means reports can be compiled in real time and automatically emailed to the insurer for approval. And when they use any materials or equipment, the company's stock system is automatically updated.

Policyholders can view the progress of their claim over the web, and change the technician's appointment time. The accounts department also benefits: when it compiles an invoice for the work, all the information is at its fingertips.

Although the system is now a reality for Munters, for many others in construction it is still a vision of the future. "It certainly gives us an edge, as nobody else in the damage management industry has got anything like this," says Phillips.

"The biggest thing our staff complained about was paperwork," he adds. "Once the engineer had done the report, they would go home and have to stand over the fax machine in their own time." And, as a technician typically visits a property twice, that meant two reports and two sets of faxes.

Phillips says the savings made on faxes, phone calls and stationery will pretty much pay for equipping the firm's 110 field technicians with laptops within a year. The system also promises to make the technicians 20% more productive, and it will enable Munters to cut staff numbers in the billing department by half.


The policyholder notifies insurer of claim. Policyholder can check progress of claim online by logging on to the system. It is also possible to change appointment times in this way.

The system automatically sends either an SMS message or an email 24 hours before the technician’s visit to remind the policyholder to be in. The technician can also fix a time for the visit, rather than just specifying morning or afternoon.

2:Insurer or loss adjuster

The insurer emails Munters with details of the location of the policyholder’s property and the type of damage. Later they get the completed report by email, and can act on its recommendations.

3:Head office

The job details supplied by the insurer are entered into the system and the technician is sent out on the job. All the data entered by the technician also then appears on the screen at head office. Once the report and estimates of the cost of further work are finished the system automatically generates a report and sends it to the insurer. When the job is finished, cost of materials and time spent by the technician are added up and sent out to the insurer.


The technician is equipped with a ruggedised laptop computer that is connected to the office via a wireless link. When the laptop is switched on, details of each job for the day pop up on screen.

The technician goes to the policyholder’s property to carry out the survey. This appears as a series of questions on the computer screen and the technician fills in the boxes. They can’t proceed to the next section of the survey until all the boxes are filled in. Any materials the technician uses are entered into the system, which automatically updates the stock control system. The time spent on each task and estimates of further time needed are also logged. For subsequent visits, the technician opens up the job details and adds the additional information.

The technician can make a new appointment with the policyholder and enter it into the system. All this data is uploaded to the head office as the survey is carried out.

“It was difficult to get used to at first, but now I think it will revolutionise the job as it eliminates all the paperwork. It used to take up to two hours to do the paperwork in the evening,” says Munters technician Steve Harsant.


The dispatcher accesses the job details entered at head office and sends these wirelessly to the technician’s laptop.